Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Hello Senior Year


Well here we go. It is the start of the senior year for Conner and of course I know it will go by fast. It is almost cliché to talk about how time flies but these 17 years have gone by in a blink of an eye.

I am little reflective now thinking back to the parent I have been for him. Regrets? Yes I do have some and can think of many ways I could have been a better father.

I do not regret for a moment the choices we made to live our lives centered around being as good of parents we could and supporting our child with time together. Sure, Michelle and I could have thrown everything at climbing the corporate ladder and chasing stuff. The result may have been a bigger house, fancier vacations and newer cars. But at what price for these things? 

They mean nothing if it leads to a debt of regret for missed opportunities in the short 18 years we got to spend time with this great guy. 

Having lost our father's at young ages, Michelle and I both have fully understood the privilege of being mom and dad.  

I know in my heart that Conner has the foundation he needs to be a success. I am not talking success in career necessarily. Yes he has big dreams in that area. I am talking the area that really counts and that is success as a man of integrity and as a servant of God.


Thank you Conner for bringing so much joy to our lives. Your future is bright no matter where it is going to lead you. 


Monday, May 12, 2014

Get over it: There is no such thing as work/life balance

“I am so sorry. I was off a few days on vacation with my family and did not keep up with e-mail.”

This was the opening comment from a manager I met with recently. Later in the day while in another meeting I asked a manager peer about her recent time off.

Me—“How was your vacation?”

Person—“Good but I did not do any work!” “I am so behind!”

Such is the life of exempt level employees and especially managers. We find ways to leave work but work never leaves us.

Our competitive work culture creates added pressure as time away can mean missed opportunities to contribute to key projects. This can lead to a perception of low value which in turn later can lead you to being the person selected for the next layoff. Not necessarily true but that is what many people think as they ponder time away from work.

Now let’s add to all of this the new hyper connected world we live in. Thanks to phones and tablets we are now connected to work 24x7. There is no excuse at all to miss that important e-mail update, project meeting maker or big data result.

For these reasons and more I have come to the clear conclusion there is no such thing as work life balance. I do not even like the term as I think it is deviously deceptive. The word “balance” creates a false hope that work and life is a 50/50 proposition. Striving for that level of balance can create far too much undo angst.
The solution I have worked out over the years is situational priority management.

I am successful in my work life because I recognize when it is time to turn it on, dig in and bust my butt to enable great results. There are times when this will require 60 hour weeks and 12 hours days and that is okay.

I am successful in my family life because I recognize when it is time to turn work off, get out and bust a move to enable great connections with my wife and teen son. When on vacation, I commit to being fully present with the family resisting the urge to work and by trusting those on my team to make the most of their empowerment.

As a father and a husband, I know that family is forever and if I am to be successful in the most important role God has given me I have to be deliberate with my time both as a parent and as a work professional. Success in one area can indeed lead to success in another.


Yes you can make everything work by managing priorities and by not letting things get out of whack forever. It is okay to have 60+ hour work weeks. The problem comes when the norm becomes all work and no family. 

Remember, jobs are temporary but your family should be permanent! There will be times when you have to sacrifice in one area to have success in another. The key is just to recognize this, be deliberate and live guilt free in each with proper priority management. 

So dump the guilt, forget balance and strive for success instead. It is possible to win at home and at work. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Is college required for you to find "it"?

You always have some students who say, ‘I don’t want to go to college; But they don’t realize whatever it is in life, they need to go to college for it.” Martin Copland (no relation to me)

This is a quote I read recently in an article about plans to encourage more students to attend college out of high school. The quote was from a high school guidance counselor.

First as a parent of a high school junior I want to make it very clear that we strongly believe the path to our son’s lifelong career success will pass through college. We are blessed that he already has decided his future career and is working now to ensure he is gaining skills that will help him in college and beyond.

I also understand and recognize that the evidence clearly shows that college graduates over a lifetime will have a higher income and experience many other benefits.

With all of this in mind, I nonetheless could not help but get angry over the quote. I just hate to think of the poor kid with a dream to work with his hands and make a good living as a mechanic, welder or in a manufacturing industry having a dream crushed by such a statement.

College is outrageously expensive and there are many kids that go just because it is the right thing to do and years later find themselves in thousands of dollars of debt. Many graduate with soft degrees that give them no real skills for the marketplace or worse yet due to not knowing what they want they leave no degree at all due to having dropped out of school.(and still thousand of dollars in debt)

Wake up folks!  There are plenty of options for the young person not seeking to go to college. The key is to provide them with support and guidance to find the right fit for who they can be.

Need some ideas?  Here is an article about forty high paying jobs that do not require a degree.

What do you think?  Can someone be a success without going right to college after high school? Is it possible to effectively encourage kids to attend college while also encouraging the non-college bound kid to find a good career? 

Rant over....

Oh and by the way, I am very thankful to live here in Oklahoma where we have extensive help for kids dreaming of College thanks to the Oklahoma Promise program. Our school district is helping to make the process even easier by providing better and free access to the ACT test. We also have one of the nation’s best career tech programs for many non-college options. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Cubicle Man!

I am not much of a TV watcher and it seems when I do take time to flip through the current cable offerings all we seem to have any more are reality shows. Interestingly, many of the popular shows are about people that have jobs and lives of danger and excitement.

Who would have imagined years ago that there would be an audience for shows about fishermen, lumberjacks, Alaska cabin dwellers, and redneck country folks.

I spend my day in a cubicle. The overall level of excitement of reading e-mails, attending conference calls and enduring endless meetings is somewhat lacking.

Perhaps I need to star in my own show. “Cubicleman!?” “E-mail Dynasty!?” “Conference calls: The Last Frontier!?” I could set up a GOPRO camera and record every exciting moment.

Up at 530! Work by 0700! Lunch at desk while working! Out by 530! My day would be riveting I am sure for others to observe.

Most if these shows are popular because people long to escape their own mundane and sterile lives to have adventure and challenges. We were born for adventure—climb mountains, fight battles, solve problems and to conquer.

Anything less brings boredom and a wandering spirit.

Let me offer a cure. Look into the world around you and find your own adventure. There is joy and excitement in our everyday lives. You just have to notice it.


Go enjoy life. After all, as I used to tell my son, “only boring people get bored”.  It is your choice. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

How we became 100% debt free

Last month our family achieved an important milestone in our lives. We dropped in the mail our final house payment to become 100% debt free!

I have to be honest. Much of my obsession over saving and being debt free has been driven by a fear of the future.  What would my family do if the cancer were to come back? What burden would I leave them? How would my son go to college? What happens if I were to lose my job?

Sometimes fear can be a good thing if in end the end it brings hope.

So how did we get here?  It is far easier than you might think.

Don’t buy stuff you can’t afford!             

Sounds like common sense doesn't it? Common sense unfortunately is just not common practice for most people.  Key here is having discernment between what you need to have and would like to have. If you don’t have the money just don’t buy it. Pretty simple huh?

Live below your means! 

When we were looking for our house I remember seeing many homes for sale from people our age who were clearly over their heads. It was easy to tell these folks by the leftover college furniture and yards with no fence. As the Realtor would push us to what the bank said we could buy we pushed back and stuck to our goals.

Save, save and save some more!

The key here is consistency and commitment. One of the best strategies is to set up automatic saving through your 401K and other auto savings options. It is easier not to spend money you never had and a good savings ensures you are ready for the emergencies in life.

Really the ultimate key to our debt free success it that Michelle and I are completely on the same page with our financial goals and we have been willing to think long term vs going for the fun of the moment.

What a feeling it is to know we can now start to build a legacy and no matter what the world may throw at us. We are prepared.

You can do it too! Just start small and begin right away.

Need some education?  I would highly recommend Dave Ramsey as his talk show and philosophy have influence us greatly. Follow his baby steps plan and you too can be debt free!


Friday, February 21, 2014

The Power of Encouragement

One of the things you hear marathon runners talk about is “the wall”. This is the moment around mile 20 or so when many people reach that critical point where a physical and mental choice is made. The choice revolves around continuing to run, walking, or for some just plain quitting.

I can remember hitting this moment during my fist marathon several years ago.

It was somewhere around mile 22 and after three and a half hours of running. It seemed most of the people around me at this point were walking or doing a little run/walk combo. To say we were running at this point was a bit of stretch.

Oh how I longed for the pain end and to join the comfort of those who were walking.
One cool thing at the Dallas White Rock Marathon is that if you are a first time marathoner you have a different number you wear so that anyone will know you are a first timer.  

Here back at the end of the pack there were several of us first timers.

As my desire to stop was reaching a crescendo, a first timer that was slightly ahead of me had started walking. There on the corner standing alone was a friendly spectator that saw this and shouted, “Hey first timer! Come on! You are almost there and looking good! Don’t start walking! Go for the finish!”

These words were not intended for me. 

The person of intention kept on walking.
 
But for me it made a difference.

Her words right at that moment encouraged me to keep moving and to reach the goal I had spent so many months working towards. I was just four miles from completing my dream to run a marathon and I was not about to stop running now thanks to some kindness that was not even intended for me.

The lesson I learned from this moment is that we can never really know the power of our positive attitude. We may miss the mark with the person we intend to help at the time but may be setting an example unknowingly to help someone else. Part of me also hopes that walker soaked in the encouragement and later crossed the line in triumph.


Don't give up. It just takes a small step to move forward.